Saying the same thing? Mixed messages on internet snooping.

Clegg plays down Cameron rift over internet snooping

Clegg plays down Cameron rift over internet snooping

Nick Clegg tried to heal the growing rift between himself and David Cameron over internet snooping plans today when he insisted both men were saying "the same thing".

The comment comes a day after the prime minister seemed to lash out at Mr Clegg for his opposition to the plan, telling reporters the Liberal Democrat leader had approved of the plans when they went before the national security council.

"Myself and the prime minister are saying precisely the same thing," Mr Clegg told ITV Daybreak this morning.

"Many of the press reports are wildly exaggerated about the plans, people will see that when we finally publish them.

"If we do anything in this area… when we do something we'll do it in a way that absolutely safeguards people's civil liberties."

The comments come amid heightened Conservative anger at the perceived Lib Dem tactic of distancing themselves from unpopular policies, such as internet snooping and NHS reform.

Yesterday, Mr Cameron appeared to implicitly criticise the gulf between Mr Clegg's public pronouncements and his private views, when he suggested the deputy prime minister had signed off on the snooping plans.

"You've got to remember that this was a national security council where sitting round the table was Chris Huhne, Nick Clegg, Ken Clarke – people from impeccable civil libertarian backgrounds," he was quoted as saying.

"People see the detail they will understand this is a very sensible way of keeping up with technology and not a snoopers' charter. And I wouldn't as prime minister sanction something that was."

Government snooping plans aim to extend surveillance powers from email and telephone communication to third-party utilities such as Facebook or Skype.